There is no doubt that KwaZulu-Natal is eclectic with its terrain fluctuating between undulating hills, sharp ravines, mountain ranges and sub-tropical beaches. The cities’ streets brim with life and are in stark contrast to the traditional settlements found in rural areas. Natal (or KZN) can be whatever you want it to be: a place of respite or one of action-packed adventure.
The province boasts two World Heritage Sites: the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, home to southern Africa’s highest mountain range, over 30 000 San paintings, and 500 caves; and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park graced with Africa’s largest estuarine system and more than 500 bird species. Hiking and biking trails lead visitors through wetland, woodland and grassland. Photographers will be spoiled for choice as they try capture the Big 5 and array of other game found in the reserves scattered around the province.
The coastline’s warm waters offer surfing, kitesurfing, canoeing, snorkelling and fishing. Dolphins play in the surf while whales make their seasonal migration to Mozambique. By night, the Durban, Ballito, and Umhlanga beachfronts come alive with pubs, clubs, lounges, and restaurants. Natal’s history is reflected in the Battlefields region where Zulu warriors, Boer garrisons, and British troops clashed two centuries ago. Zulu culture and lifestyle can be explored via village tours.
- The region is home to two World Heritage Sites: uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, known for its San paintings; and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, known for its diverse ecosystem and birdlife
- Game reserves include sightings of the Big 5, cheetah, hyena, zebra, hippo, jackal and antelope
- The coastline’s warm waters and idyllic beaches invite surfing, body boarding, kitesurfing, canoeing, snorkelling, and deep sea fishing
- History of the region is reflected in the Battlefields region where the Anglo-Boer war took place
Facts and Information
Kwazulu Natal is South Africa's most populous province with an estimated 10 million people. Most of these are Zulus, descendants of the famous King Shaka. These people are still fiercely protective of their tribe and culture and they swear allegiance to King Goodwill Zwelethini. You will certainly meet these people on your visit to KZN and you can relive the history of their kingdom and their famous tussles with the Boers and British by visiting the Battlefields.
The capital of Kwazulu Natal is Pietermaritzburg but its premier city is Durban, Africa's busiest port with a population of about 3 million. There are pretty beaches around the city but we recommend you head up the North Coast to savor silky white sand and tropical warm waters. There are 2 World Heritage Sites - the greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, an excellent addition to a Kwazulu Natal Safari and the Ukhahlamba/Drakensberg Mountain Range with the country's highest peaks. Once the hunting ground of the Zulu Kings, the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve is home to the Big Five as well as being famous for its white and black rhino protection program.
“The St Lucia Wetland Park must be the only place on the globe where the world oldest land mammal (The Rhino) with the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (The Elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (The Coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (The Whale).” - Nelson Mandela
Weather and When to Visit
The best time to tour KwaZulu Natal is definitely early autumn through winter and into spring. Summer can be very hot and humid. Game viewing is better in late June, July and August when the grass is shorter, many trees have lost their leaves, and the animals tend to congregate around waterholes.
Zulu people are naturally very polite and its considered rude not to greet someone. These little phrases will help you immensely.
- Good morning/afternoon/evening - Sawubona (Sing) / Sanibonani (Plural)
- Goodbye - Uhambe kahle / Usale kahle
- Yes / No - Yebo / Cha
- Excuse me - Uxolo
- Thank you - Ngiyabonga
- Thank you very much - Ngibonga kakhulu
- How are you? - Kunjani?
- I'm fine, thanks - Ngiyaphila
Buying Zulu Arts and Crafts
While shopping for curios, you might purchase these from the Zulu women who crafted the goods. She will always pass the artefact to you using her right hand only. The palm of the left hand will be under the right forearm. This custom is significant, and serves to assure you that there are no hidden weapons and you have nothing to fear from her. A popular souvenir for visitors is Zulu beadwork. One of the most fascinating manifestations of this traditional craft is its unique language. Every colour has a different meaning and a Zulu woman can weave a message of love, grief, jealousy, poverty or uncertainty into her patterned creation.
NB: We are Kwazulu Natal experts and can help you plan an itinerary that suits your needs. Get free, no-obligation advice to plan your tailor-made trip!